Dirk Lotriet
2 minute read
18 May 2018
9:15 am

Like humour, farming is serious business

Dirk Lotriet

Most farmers – traditional white farmers as well as the rapidly growing number of black commercial farmers – are doing a sterling job of feeding the nation.

I have never seen a smaller pony than the tiny one at Nampo this week.

Nampo is the premier showcase for the agricultural industry on the African continent and quite an impressive experience. Nothing else illustrates as clearly that agriculture has become much more than a couple of old white men with bakkies and moustaches.

It has developed into an industry where you need to be a geneticist, a nurse, a vet, a horticulturist, an economist, a soil expert and a labour expert to be successful. But a sense of humour, it seems, is optional.

When the pony’s handler took it out of its stable, the equine magnet attracted a small but admiring crowd. It wasn’t too happy with all the people around and let out a high-pitched neigh.

“It doesn’t sound like a pony,” said a stocky man with an impressive belly and a two-tone shirt. “It must be sick.”

“No,” I told him. “It’s not sick. It’s just a little hoarse.”

Nobody even smiled, which was quite upsetting.

If I wanted to spend my time with humourless people who can’t appreciate a well-crafted joke, I could have stayed home with the lovely Snapdragon, I thought as I strolled over to the bovine quarters to inspect the cattle.

I kept a low profile and tried not to draw attention.

The last time I visited Nampo was in 2015.

“I heard someone has bred a cow that looks like a lion,” my news editor told me. “Go and get a picture of it.”

“You must be joking,” I said. “It’s just not possible.”

But she insisted. That day the farmers laughed and laughed – at me (I swear I saw some of the cows giggling. Could you call them laughing stock?).

Then again, agriculture is no laughing matter.

Some farmers – and I believe it’s a small minority – have given the industry a bad name with despicable labour practices and farright tendencies.

But from my own experience, most of them – the traditional white farmers as well as the rapidly growing number of black commercial farmers – are doing a sterling job of feeding the nation. And they need the support of government and the public.

Because agriculture, just like humour, is a far too serious business to simply leave in the hands of farmers.

Dirk Lotriet. Picture: Alaister Russell

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